Chorus Network matches investors with impact startups
From a trickle to a torrent, impact investing has become the trending topic across the asset management industry. While pressure increases for all investments to ‘do no harm’, a growing demand for opportunities that actively ‘do good’ continues to go unmet. Chorus Network is hoping to address that. Launched by a social impact entrepreneur and reformed investment banker, Chorus brings the best aspects of investing in startups and wraps that around the impact space.
Chorus looks for exceptional startups that have developed a financially attractive business plan with an equal commitment to addressing social or environmental issues. The network launches with three startups looking to tackle chemical pollution in textiles, the decline in arts education and the unfair practices used in producing beauty products.
Though potentially lucrative, direct investing into startups can carry a lot of risk and uncertainty. As a result, investors are missing out on some of the most exciting opportunities. It is an example of what economists call Information Asymmetry. The entrepreneurs have complete information while the investors struggle to figure out which questions to ask. ‘We designed Chorus to bring the investor/founder relationship back into balance’, said Chorus Founder, Gordon Eichhorst.
First, investment opportunities that are made available to Chorus members always offer either SEIS or EIS tax relief. Depending on the individual circumstances of the investor, these reliefs can reduce the potential loss to as little as 13.5%. Second, startups that come onto Chorus are required to adopt Articles and related legal documents that ensure minority protections are in place.
Most investors would consider this step to be simply good corporate governance but many startups are unwilling, or often unaware, that their legal documents are lopsided. Third, the Chorus Hub is a one-stop location where the investor can keep track of documents and also track the progress of their investment. Founders benefit from only having to deliver their quarterly updates to the Hub and it gets automatically distributed to their investors.
Chorus members can review investment opportunities with the knowledge that a number of downside protections have been put in place. They can focus their time and energy on considering the upside potential of the business and the credentials of the founders. ‘’The government has generously created legal and tax structures that make the UK a global leader in start-up investing, extending that to the impact investing sector seems obvious” said Eichhorst.
What about the pipeline? Chorus works closely with its sister organisation, Impact Central, an impact accelerator programme that seeks to take early-stage impact startups and get them ready for investment. Impact Central runs three cohorts a year with up to ten startups per cohort. With a target of 10-12 new investments each year, Chorus should have no problem finding exciting candidates to bring to its members.